The 2020 Icelandic Literary Prize presented

27. January, 2021

The prize was awarded in three categories and the winners are Elísabet Kristín Jökulsdóttir, Arndís Þórarinsdóttir, Hulda Sigrún Bjarnadóttir & Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson.

The President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, presented the 2020 Icelandic Literary Prize in the presidential recidence Bessastaðir on the 26th of January. The event was televised live on RÚV.

Elísabet Kristín Jökulsdóttir was awarded the prize for her book Aprílsólarkuldi in the category of fiction, Arndís Þórarinsdóttir & Hulda Sigrún Bjarnadóttir for the book Blokkin á heimsenda in childrens' and young adult category, and Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson received the prize in the category of non-fiction for his book Í fjarska norðursins: Ísland og Grænland – viðhorfasaga í þúsund ár.



Aprílsólarkuldi - Frásögn um ást og geðveiki og huggun (Sunny April Cold - A Story of Love, Madness and Solace) by Elísabet Kristín Jökulsdóttir. Publisher: Forlagið/JPV. Foreign rights.

Sunny April Cold tells of paternal loss, from the perspective of Vedis, a student and single mother; the love that comes almost as unexpectedly, and her descent into mental illness, all in a split-second that seems to last an eternity.

Elísabet Jökulsdóttir (b.1958) has received several awards and recognitions for her work. A two-time recipient of the Women's Literature Prize, for The Locksmith's Good Advice and for No Dance by Ufsaklettur, which became a nominee for the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2016. Elísabet was also a candidate in the 2016 presidential election.

Barna-1-Blokkin-a-heimsendaBarna-1-HuldaBarna-1-ArndisChildrens' and young adult

Blokkin á heimsenda (The Island on the Edge of the Universe) by Arndís Þórarinsdóttir & Hulda Sigrún Bjarnadóttir. Publisher: Forlagið/MM. Foreign rights.

Blokkin á heimsenda is about a girl and the winter she spends on a remote island where the entire population, including her thorny grandmother, lives in a single apartment building. Due to extreme weather patterns the island is cut off from the outside world during the winter months. Dröfn must adjust to a life without Minecraft, internet and even (the horror!) chocolate bars. At the same time she needs to find her place in a community that does not welcome newcomers. Might it be possible that someone on the island wishes them harm? And this is to speak nothing of the possibility of polar bears in the recycling center...

Blokkin á heimsenda won the Guðrún Helgadóttir Children's Literature Prize prior to publication in 2020. It is the first book Hulda Sigrún Bjarnadóttir writes in Icelandic, but she has previously published four YA novels as Rune Michaels with Simon & Schuster. Her work has been translated into German, French, Chinese, Korean and Portugese to critical acclaim. Arndís Þórarinsdóttir has published several books in Icelandic; chapter-books, middle-grade books, YA and poetry.


Í fjarska norðursins: Ísland og Grænland – viðhorfasaga í þúsund ár (The Far North. Iceland and Greenland - Millennia of Representations) by Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson. Publisher: Sögufélag. Foreign rights.

The book Í fjarska norðursins, Ísland og Grænland – viðhorfasaga í þúsund ár (The Far North. Iceland and Greenland - Millennia of Representations) is the history of portrayals of Iceland and Greenland from medieval times until the present day. For centuries both of these nations have seemed alien and exotic in the eyes of outsiders and the book is based on research into a great number of foreigners' travelogues on Iceland and Greenland and their wide variety of illustrations that describe and depict these countries and their inhabitants. The book seeks to answer the question as to why their native peoples have been described as either the wildest savages or paragons of humanity. Why were Iceland and Greenland sometimes described as satanic and at other times as treasure islands or utopias? 

Sumarliði R. Ísleifsson has a doctorate in history and is currently a lecturer in the Faculty of History and Philosophy in the School of Humanities at the University of Iceland. He has researched the representations of Iceland and Greenland by foreign writers for many years and published articles and books on this topic. He has also written a history of the Icelandic trade union movement and other aspects of Icelandic history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has presided over and taken part in international research projects, edited books and organised and set up exhibitions.

The Icelandic Literary Prize, Prize Money, and Jury

The Icelandic Literary Prize grants one million ISK, funded by the Association of Icelandic Publishers, to the winner of each category.

A jury of four elected the winners from the fifteen books that were shortlisted in December 2020, five for each category. The jury members were Einar Örn Stefánsson, Hrund Þórsdóttir, Jóhannes Ólafsson and Ingunn Ásdísardóttir, who also served as chair and was appointed by the President of Iceland.

The announcement from the 2 December about all the nominations for the Icelandic Literary Prize 2020 can be found here.

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